Q Without naming names, tell us about a project that was very challenging and what you did to solve the customer’s problem. A In my opinion our most challenging project was challenging not for technical reasons, but for soft-skill — leadership and management reasons. These are, after all, the things that engineers often struggle with. We had a customer come to us and essentially say, “My plant is a mess. I don’t know where to start or how much it might cost. We have new owners with money and the objective to improve our reliability and profitability measurably over a two to three-year period.” They had no project definition, no specifications, and essentially no drawings. We did a quick-and-dirty FEL-0 level study/design, told them $5-7M and they started writing POs. At this point a reader might be thinking, gee, Tim, what a gift! Remember, however, ECS still has no project definition, no specifications, and essentially no drawings. We have an organization built on standards and methodology, hopefully enough money, and a goal to upgrade the worst hardware offenders during the next scheduled outage, which was a moving target. Other readers might be thinking, there are enough red flags here that ECS should have run. Fortunately, we didn’t. Our challenge was to use our standards and methods as best we could, to the degree we could, neither throwing them out nor perfecting them as we would have liked, keeping the goal in mind. Had we not possessed standards and methodologies, I suspect we would have failed. Had we insisted on perfect adherence to the same, we definitely would have failed. Addressing the challenge required leadership to define the path and to continue to hold a light on the path ahead. It also required management to assess and redirect if we strayed from the path. Our success in balancing the extremes of throwing out our standards and following them to the letter led us to a very happy, repeat customer and very profitable projects.